Todd Barry's style is an act worth catching 

click to enlarge MINDY TUCKER
  • Mindy Tucker


On the heels of his acclaimed The Crowd Work Tour, comedian Todd Barry is back out on the road and sharing sly observations with his signature low-key delivery.

Operating in a comic stealth mode until it’s time to strike, Barry swoops in to deliver a barrage of jokes, piling on punch line after punch line.

Barry’s three-decade stand-up career has yielded three albums, three Comedy Central specials and a documentary. As an actor, he’s known for roles like the bongo-playing interloper on Flight of the Conchords and Mickey Rourke’s deli boss in The Wrestler. He has also played versions of himself on shows like Louis and Delocated.

OKC Comedy partner BradChad Porter said that Barry’s unique voice inspired a generation of comedians.

“Young comics everywhere have started their careers doing a version of Todd Barry,” Porter said. “He makes deadpan an attribute to strive for and elevates clever to art.”
It’s not just Barry’s delivery that sets him apart; it’s his choice of material: good, old-fashioned, observational joke-telling.

Porter will open for Barry on Thursday at ACM@UCO Performance Lab, as will Wampus Reynolds and Gabe Bravo. Barry started doing stand-up in his early 20s, inspired by the rich open-mic and stand-up comedy boom of the ’80s.

He developed his own voice over time by performing whenever possible.

“I never planned the way I talk or my onstage energy level. Whatever I’ve turned into happened organically,” Barry said.

Barry gained a reputation for his crowd work, engaging in organic, off-the-cuff comedic exchanges with audience members during his sets.

A few years ago, he had the idea to do an entire tour of shows comprised of only crowd work and film them. The resulting documentary, The Crowd Work Tour, was produced and distributed through Louis CK’s website.

“It was relaxing because I didn’t have to plan anything but stressful because I still had to fill the time,” Barry said. “I enjoyed the experience because I really didn’t know what to expect every night.”

By involving the crowd in his shows, Barry creates custom experiences for audiences.

“Few comics have the wherewithal to create such an experience night in and night out,” Porter said of Barry. For this tour, Barry presents some written material but still takes time out during every show to go into the audience.

He just wants everyone to have a good time.

“Making a group of nice people laugh is great thing,” Barry said. “When it’s going well, you can’t even believe that it’s also your job.”

Print headline: Old-school, Comedian Todd Barry makes people laugh with his unscripted improv and deadpan delivery.

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